Off To The Big Ten Tournament

PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM The Boilermaker softball team is set for a Friday meeting with Minnesota in the Big Ten Tournament first round.
PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM
The Boilermaker softball team is set for a Friday meeting with Minnesota in the Big Ten Tournament first round.
PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM

May 7, 2008

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Boilermaker softball team will make its second-consecutive Big Ten Tournament appearance on Friday, when Purdue faces fourth-seeded Minnesota. The Boilermakers, which garnered their first ever postseason victory at the Big Ten Tournament last season, is making back-to-back appearances at the event for the first time in program history.

Multimedia Information
Live statistics for all of Purdue's Big Ten Tournament games will be available on purduesports.com via the GameTracker feature. A live audio broadcast of each of Purdue's tournament games will be available on WSHY 1410 AM and on yahoosports.com.

TV Time
All of the Day 2 contests as well as Saturday's championship game will air live on the Big Ten Network. Tom Werme will be the play-by-play announcer and Eileen Canney will be the color analyst for Purdue's contest with Minnesota as well as the team's second round game. Leah Secondo and Amanda Scott will have the call for the championship game on Saturday.

A Bit About The Big Ten Tournament
The Big Ten Tournament pits the top eight teams in the league against each other in a single-elimination event. The tournament is played at the home of the regular season champion. The Northwestern Wildcats are the host school after sharing the regular season title with Michigan. A coin flip determined the host location due the fact that the teams split head-to-head meetings and each lost just one other Big Ten contest to Iowa. The three-day tournament will be played at Sharon J. Drysdale Field in Evanston, Ill. The winner of the Big Ten Tournament will receive the conference's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.

The Book on the Boilermakers
The Purdue softball team (34-20, 9-9 Big Ten) is making its second straight Big Ten Tournament appearance after finishing fifth in the conference. The Boilermakers swept instate rival Indiana last weekend to secure the first back-to-back tournament appearances in program history.

Four Boilermakers are batting .300 or better led by junior second baseman Kelly Miller (.351). Junior shortstop Candace Curtis (.340), Sophomore first baseman Kelsey Haupert (.315), and senior third baseman Ashley Hall (.304) round out the group. Sophomore catcher Jenna Alexander (.282), sophomore outfielder Ashley Barr (.279) and junior infielder Katie Mitchell (.268) follow. Curtis leads the team with 39 RBI and 11 home runs. Haupert and Mitchell each have added seven home runs. Hall has recorded eight triples and a team-leading 31 runs, while Mitchell also has scored 28 runs and tallied 29 RBI and 13 doubles. Miller has scored 27 runs and laid down 21 sacrifices. The Boilermakers are batting .274 with 99 extra-base hits and 28 stolen bases.

In the circle, freshman Suzie Rzegocki (15-8) has recorded 117 strikeouts in 13 complete games, five shutouts and three saves. Junior Dana Alcocer (18-12) has K'ed 130 batters in 185 innings, while tossing 16 complete games, including three shutouts. Junior Ashley DiDomenico (1-0) and sophomores Sarah Killer and Kaity Stratten also have seen action.

Meet Minnesota
The Minnesota Golden Gophers (28-15, 9-7 Big Ten) are making their first Big Ten Tournament appearance since 2004, after placing fourth in the conference. The Gophers swept Wisconsin last weekend to wrap up regular season play.

Junior infielder Colleen Conway (.333) headlines a group of four Gopher players batting .300 or better. Freshman infielder Malisa Barnes (.313) , senior outfielder Sila Fernandez (.308), junior catcher Shannon Stemper (.306) round out the group. Senior outfielder Amber Nelsen (.250) follows. Conway has scored a team-best 29 runs and swiped 11 bases, while Barnes has driven in a team-best 23 RBI. Stemper has tallied 10 doubles, while Barnes has added eight to go with four home runs. Senior outfielder Casey Wheeler (.197) has launched three home runs, while Nelsen has added two long balls. As a team, Minnesota is batting .255 with 36 stolen bases.

Junior Briana Hassett (19-7) boasts a 1.66 ERA and has struck out 263 batters in 186 innings and tossed 11 shutouts. Junior Katie Dalen (9-8) has K'ed 88 batters in 111 innings of work, while pitching four shutouts. Minnesota is coached by Lisa Bernstein and Julie Standering, who have been co-head coaches for nine years.

Series Information
Minnesota (Minnesota leads the series 16-15): The Golden Gophers won the first two meetings in the series which began on April 29, 1995. The teams split the next four contests. Purdue won three of the next four, but Minnesota answered with four straight wins. The teams traded wins over the next six contests, including a pair of extra-inning games. The Gophers swept the 2003 series, but Purdue has won seven of the last nine, including the last five in a row.

What a Difference a Win Makes ...

If the Boilermakers top Minnesota on Friday...

• They will move to 35-20 on the year, marking the first time Purdue has posted more than 34 wins in a season since 1997.

• They will have won a Big Ten Tournament game for the second straight year. The 2007 squad earned Purdue's first postseason win, snapping a string of five losses.

• They will move to 26-28 all-time when playing in the month of May, including a 3-1 mark when playing on May 9.

Tournament Bound
Entering the final weekend of the regular season, the Boilermakers were in seventh place in the Big Ten and needed one win to solidify their second-straight Big Ten Tournament berth. With a pair of wins over instate foe Indiana, the Boilermakers moved up to fifth, matching their 2007 placing. Purdue finished 9-9 in conference play and was awarded the No. 5 seed in the tournament, pitting the team against No. 4 seed Minnesota in opening round play. Seedings are determined based on winning percentage and not all of the conference teams played a 20-game schedule.

Among The Nation
The Boilermakers are well represented in the national statistics listings. Senior third baseman Ashley Hall has tallied eight triples in 43 games, ranking second nationally in triples per game (0.19) and third in triples. Junior second baseman Kelly Miller has laid down 19 sacrifices (0.39 per game) to rank third in the country and first in the Big Ten. Sophomore outfielder Ashley Barr also ranks among the national Top 20 in sacrifices, ranking 17th with 0.30 per game (16). Freshman pitcher Suzie Rzegocki ranks 53rd with three saves to her credit, while junior pitcher Dana Alcocer ranks 56th in wins with 17.

Wanna Race?
The Boilermakers reached the 20-win milestone in 28 games, marking the fastest journey to 20 wins in program history. The 2001 and 2002 teams owned the previous best mark, reaching 20 wins in 29 games, with records of 20-8-1 and 20-9 respectively. Making the feat all the more impressive is the fact that last year's team did not reach the 20 win mark until 46 games into the season.

With a 9-0 win over Michigan State on April 19, the Boilermakers reached the 30-win milestone, one the team has achieved each of the last nine years. The fastest journey to 30 wins prior to 2008 (44) came in 2002, when the team did so in 46 games, posting a 30-16 record to that point in the season.

Triple Threat
Senior third baseman Ashley Hall is known as a triple threat at the plate, meaning she can bunt, slap and hit for power. It is the combination of the Noblesville, Ind., native's speed and bat, however, that has earned her Purdue's single season and career triples records with eight and 14 respectively. Hall posted one triple her sophomore season, five as a junior and a single-season record eight thus far in her senior campaign. The 14 three-baggers snaps the record mark of 12 set by Katie Crabtree from 1999-2002. Hall's tally of eight in 2008 surpasses the single-season record owned by Jennifer Blasnick (1994) and Jenny Schoen (1995).

The Emergence of The Long Ball
Although Purdue is not a "home run hitting team," the Boilermakers have amassed 31 home runs in their 54 games. Junior Candace Curtis, junior Katie Mitchell and sophomore Kelsey Haupert have combined for 25 of the 31. Freshman Beth Cinadr and sophomore Jenna Alexander have added three and two respectively. Twenty-three of Purdue's dingers have come in the last 28 games, including three home run outings against Michigan State (4/19), Wisconsin (4/4) and Butler (3/26). Mitchell launched a school-record tying two home runs in the contest with the Bulldogs, while Alexander did the honors against the Badgers.

With two long balls against Ball State on April 16, the 2008 Boilermakers earned a spot in the Purdue single-season top five, matching the 26 home run tally achieved by the 2000 and 2006 squads. The 31 round trippers ranks third, tying the 31 home run tally registered by the 2002 team. The Boilermakers hit a school-record 44 home runs in 2007.

A Worthy Sacrifice
Through 54 games, the Boilermakers have laid down 91 sacrifice bunts, a number which leads the Big Ten and is tied for first on the Purdue all-time season records list. And, it is not just one or two players giving up their at-bats for the team, 14 of the 16 Purdue players with at least one at-bat have laid down a sacrifice. Junior Kelly Miller leads the way with 21 sacrifices, while sophomore Ashley Barr has added 16. Junior Christina Trauger follows with 10, while junior Candace Curtis and freshman Suzie Rzegocki have added nine and eight respectively.

Since head coach Kim Maher's arrival, the Boilermakers have made hay with the short game, racking up a Purdue season-record 91 sacrifices in 2006, a tally which they followed with 90 in 2007. Prior to Maher's arrival, the Boilermakers had posted more than 66 sacrifices just once in program history (84 in 1998).

A Tough Slate
The Boilermakers are slated to face 14 NCAA Tournament teams, including two that advanced to the 2007 Women's College World Series. Based on the preseason rankings, the Boilermakers will take on No. 4 Alabama, No. 8 Baylor, No. 9 LSU, No. 19 Stanford, No. 21 Cal State Fullerton and No. 25 Missouri in non-conference play, and No. 7 Northwestern, No. 12 Michigan and No. 23 Ohio State during Big Ten play.

Based on the NFCA weekly rankings, however, the Boilermakers have faced seven ranked squads: No. 4 Alabama, No. 6 Michigan, No. 7 Baylor, No. 10 LSU, No. 10 Stanford, No. 13 Northwestern and No. 25 Iowa.

Upcoming Milestones
Senior third baseman Ashley Hall is on her way to stealing a spot on the career stolen base list. Hall, who swiped a school record 36 bases in 2007, has racked up 68 steals in her career, just eight shy of the career record of 76 held by Angi Roembke (2000-2003). Hall snapped Roembke's single-season record of 28 steals, which came during the 2003 season. The Noblesville, Ind., native also ranks among the career top five for triples (1st with 14) and runs scored (5th with 115). In 2007, Hall set single-season record marks for stolen bases and hits (85).

Junior infielder/designated player Katie Mitchell is just eight home runs away from the career record of 32 owned by Katie Crabtree (1999-2002) and Heidi Foster (2000-2003). Mitchell moved into fourth place all-time with her 18th career home run against Missouri, March 7. The Crown Point, Ind., native also ranks among the career top five for slugging percentage (2nd with .556), on-base percentage (4th with .387) and walks (5th with 58). In 2007, Mitchell set single-season records for runs (54), RBI (54), home runs (14) and slugging percentage (.697).

Junior shortstop Candace Curtis has tallied 17 home runs in her career, just one away from the career top five list. Curtis has launched 11 in 2008, a tally which ranks fourth on the single-season list. Sophomore first baseman Kelsey Haupert, who launched nine home runs as a rookie, has 16 long balls to her credit. Fifth place on the career home runs list is 18, a mark posted by Jesse Jones from 2000-2003.

In The Books
Senior third baseman Ashley Hall tied the single-game record for triples with two in Purdue's 7-6 win over South Alabama on Saturday, Feb. 9. Hall tallied her three-baggers in the third and fifth innings as part of a 4-for-4 effort on her 22nd birthday. The effort marks the seventh two-triple performance in school history, the last coming off the bat of Tricia Lilley on March 26, 2005.

Junior outfielder Christina Trauger tied the single-game record for walks by drawing three against Central Michigan, March 8. The occasion marks the 10th time a Boilermaker batter has been walked three times in a game.

Junior first baseman Katie Mitchell launched a school record-tying two home runs against Butler on Wednesday, March 26. The occasion marked the second time in her career (also March 24, 2007 vs. Michigan State) and the 12th time a Purdue player had registered two long balls in a game. Sophomore catcher Jenna Alexander tallied two home runs against Wisconsin on Friday, April 4.

The Boilermakers allowed 10 walks in the contest against South Alabama, tying a single-game record mark. Purdue also issued 10 free passes vs. Florida State on Feb. 13, 1998. On the flip side, Purdue drew a single-game record tying nine walks against Syracuse, Feb. 17.

An Historic Win
The Purdue softball team posted an historic win Feb. 15, topping the No. 7 Baylor Bears, 6-5 in eight innings to close day one of the Getterman Classic. The Boilermakers defeated a Top 10 team for the first time since beating No. 7 Texas 6-5 on March 4, 1999. The seventh-ranked Bears are the highest ranked team a Purdue squad has defeated in program history. The victory was Purdue's first over a ranked foe since upsetting No. 12 Michigan on April 9, 2006.

Conference Honors
Junior infielder Katie Mitchell was named Big Ten Co-Player of the Week, March 10 for her performance at the Under Armour Invitational in Clearwater, Fla., Mitchell posted a .471 average and .824 slugging percentage. The junior compiled three-multi-hit games and reached base in all five contests, also racking up seven RBI, five runs and four extra-base hits. Mitchell's best performance came in the Boilermakers' tournament finale on Sunday as she went 3-for-4 with a run scored, three RBI and a double. The Crown Point, Ind., native opened the tournament with two-hit performances in back-to-back games against UT-Chattanooga and Missouri on Friday, also driving in three runs on a homer and scoring two against the Tigers.

Sophomore catcher Jenna Alexander was named Big Ten Player of the Week April 7 after hitting for a .667 average in six at-bats to help Purdue to four consecutive victories over IUPUI and Wisconsin In Game 1 of a doubleheader with IUPUI on April 2, the sophomore had a double in her only at-bat as the Boilermakers won, 6-1. In the first of a doubleheader against Wisconsin on April 4, Alexander was a perfect 2-for-2, hitting solo home runs in both plate appearances to account for her two RBI and two runs to aid in a 5-2 win. In Purdue's final game against the Badgers, the Elk Grove, Calif., native went 1-for-2 with the game-winning RBI to lead the Boilermakers to another win, 4-3. This is Alexander's first career weekly honor.

Accumulating Accolades
Junior shortstop Candace Curtis and senior third baseman Ashley Hall received all-tournament team honors at the Hampton Inn Bama Bash to start the season. Curtis batted .444 with two RBI and two stolen bases, while Hall hit .385 with two triples, two runs, one steal and a 4-for-4 effort.

Four Boilermaker players garnered all-tournament team nods at the Getterman Classic, Feb. 15-17. Curtis, Hall, junior second baseman Kelly Miller and freshman pitcher Suzie Rzegocki were so honored. Curtis batted .545 with two doubles, a home run and seven RBI, while Hall averaged .467 with five runs and two stolen bases. Miller hit .333 and scored four runs, while Rzegocki posted a 3-0 record and struck out 13 in 15 innings on the mound. Rzegocki also batted .333 including two doubles.